The Cubs used the longball -- the White Sox' favorite tool -- to beat the South Siders 5-4; Jake Fox had three hits and a HR and Geovany Soto smacked a three-run blast that was the difference in the game.
And I suppose all you want to talk about is Milton Bradley. Bradley and manager Lou Piniella had words in the dugout after Bradley flied to left in the sixth inning and, to make a long story short -- and the story may yet get longer -- Lou sent Milton home, but not before Bradley had slugged the Gatorade cooler in the dugout and, according to the WGN postgame show, may have even had words with Carlos Zambrano, who reportedly headed to the clubhouse after Milton.
Milton Bradley has been a clubhouse problem his entire career. Let me tell you a couple of things I have recently learned, which I had earlier decided not to post. Now, though, it seems imperative to do so. I am not naming names here to protect my sources; however, I have absolutely no doubt that the stories I have been told are true.
1) I have a friend who knows several writers who covered Bradley on a daily basis when he was playing with another team. These writers called him "a clubhouse cancer in the truest sense of the word".
2) I have another friend who is close personal friends with a major league player who was a teammate of Bradley's at one time. This major league player called Bradley "the biggest asshole he had ever had as a teammate".
You can ask as often as you like, but I will not name these people. However, I stand by what I was told as the truth.
All of this had to be known to Cubs management -- they're not blind, and they see and know far more than I do. Why Jim Hendry chose to sign Bradley in the face of overwhelming evidence that this was a bad idea is inexplicable. If the Cubs had wanted to sign an oft-injured outfielder with a big contract, they could have traded for Andruw Jones, who is actually starting to hit again and in fewer plate appearances than Bradley, has more doubles, homers and RBI. Granted, RBI aren't necessarily the best measure of offensive performance, but Bradley was signed to a huge contract to be a middle-of-the-lineup guy, to be the force in the lineup, to play the way he did last year, only for a full season. He's got 16 RBI in 200 PA. Jake Fox has 11 RBI in 43 PA.
Unfortunately, save simply releasing him and eating a huge amount of money, or benching him to the point where the Cubs won't have to pay the 2011 vesting option (at which time the Players' Association would probably step in and say, "You can't do that"), we are stuck with Bradley. Bruce Miles' blog, linked above, says:
Apparently, the Cubs feel that Bradley is acting selfishly. GM Jim Hendry talked with us in the runway after the game and said he wanted players to be "all in."
I pressed him on that, and he said that "all in" means all for the team. Some of Bradley's teammates also are beginning to wonder.
Hendry also said he'd talk with Bradley tomorrow.
Hendry is right, of course, but how could he have not seen that Milton Bradley isn't an "all in" kind of guy and never has been? This one's on you, Jim. You made a big mistake. You need to fix it, and yesterday. To all those who said, "100 games of Milton Bradley is worth more than a full season of Adam Dunn", with all due respect, in this case running the numbers don't tell the whole story. Not one of you -- not anyone -- can say to me that the Cubs wouldn't have been better off with Adam Dunn in right field up to this point in 2009, defense be damned.
All of this is yet another unwelcome distraction from this season, and today was a nicely-played win, despite yet another bullpen meltdown from Carlos Marmol, who threw only 10 strikes in 24 pitches. Whatever's wrong with Marmol, someone better figure it out soon, because with Angel Guzman out, the Cubs don't have a lot of other 8th-inning options. In fact, today, with Randy Wells having finished another fine seven innings (two mistakes were hit for homers, but those were his only mistakes) in 98 pitches, I think I would have sent him out there for the 8th.
Meanwhile, we are now seeing the Jake Fox who tore up Triple-A for the first two months. He had three hits including his second homer in as many days, and played a competent third base, handling five grounders (including starting a DP) without incident. The only ball he couldn't get to was Scott Podsednik's bunt, and not many third basemen could have made that play. Even after Aramis Ramirez returns, he may not be at full strength and may have to take a couple days off every week. Fox has proven he can handle the position at least that often and needs to be in the lineup every day.
And, Geovany Soto hit a three-run homer that was the difference in the game. Since May 13 -- 105 at-bats -- Geo is hitting .276/.366/.523 with 7 HR and 19 RBI, very close to his production level of 2008. The Cubs definitely need him to keep this up and he appears to be back on track.
About Bradley, I don't know what the final disposition will be of this incident, and the accumulated problems he's had in less than half a season. All I know is that it seems imperative that the Cubs add another hitter, and soon.
My first visit to the Cell since the Cub series a year ago found some changes -- there is now a new scoreboard in RF showing out-of-town scores batter-by-batter, and also updated stats on each pitcher and batter in the game taking place there. What I also found were some more fan-unfriendly policies. They were blocking anyone without an outfield seat from going through the concourse in the outfield -- thus giving those ticketholders unfettered access to the park, but no one could walk around. This made things extremely crowded going out of the park after the game was over, in addition to some red-shirted ushers being quite overzealous about checking tickets, to the point that you couldn't even say "hi" to people you just wanted to say "hi" to unless you sneaked past them. The crowd was late-arriving; many empty seats were left at game time, though they eventually filled in for the sellout of 39,015. I heard Alfonso Soriano booed when he led off the game -- I wondered who was booing louder, Sox fans or Cubs fans? Overall the atmosphere was much more like previous Sox/Cubs series than the two games at Wrigley last week -- so perhaps the idea that those games being weekdays being responsible for the muted atmosphere there is true.
Finally, sign seen (and I wish I'd had a good camera to take a shot of it) -- someone had taken a large posterboard and put a photo of Michael Jackson with "Sox" photoshopped onto his jacket. Clever and well-timed.